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Album Review

Justin Bieber, 'My World'

November 23, 2009

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Pop
Justin Bieber My World
Island
ESSENTIAL “Down to Earth’’

Armed with Zac Efron’s hair, Natasha Bedingfield’s voice, and Usher’s imprimatur, Justin Bieber arrives riding a wave of industry hype touting him as the genuine article, a preternaturally gifted and self-assured 15-year-old star in waiting. That’s hardly borne out on “My World,’’ where Bieber is indistinguishable from any of a thousand prefab pop aspirants with musical inadequacies that need glossing over in the studio. “One Time’’ is built on the same deliberately paced glitchy chirpiness that characterized Bedingfield’s “Angel,’’ and the omnipresent Auto-Tune smothers any genuine personality with the gleam of artificiality. There’s also a distinct uncertainty about how best to handle his tender age: acknowledge it in a Disney fashion (with multiple songs comparing love to a fairy tale) or ignore it and end up with the unintentional comedy of lines like, “I was a player when I was little/ But now I’m bigger’’? “First Dance’’ combines the two, with Bieber singing, “Ain’t no chaperones. . . Girl, I promise I’ll be gentle/ I know we gotta do it slowly’’ in a song literally about prom. It’s tough to get excited over a supposedly staggering new talent whose contribution to the pop landscape is a simple “Me, too.’’ (Out now) MARC HIRSH